When she founded Still Kickin in 2015, Nora McInerny—author of the best-selling book It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool, Too) and creator of the APM podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking—was inspired by a phrase that appeared on a t-shirt her husband, Aaron Purmort, was wearing when he had a seizure, later revealed to be a symptom of a terminal brain tumor. Now, that shirt helps others who are struggling with sickness, death, or other challenges. Every month, the organization chooses a Still Kickin Hero, and gives them the profits from retail sales of their Still Kickin–branded product and from donation-based workouts with small gyms around the country. Since its founding, the brand has partnered with local brewery Bauhaus Brew Labs on a limited-time-only beer and even collaborated on an activewear line with Lululemon.
The past few months have been a busy time for the organization. In November, it became one of the vendors featured at the RAAS Local Market pop-up shop at the Mall of America (open through the week of the Super Bowl), and this month, it launches a monthly Still Kickin pop-up shopping event at its Northeast studio. It also recently debuted a reprint of its FeMNist shirt, a design originally created by Purmort, which is at the center of its upcoming FeMNist Day 2018 UnConference and Night Market in March in honor of International Women’s Day.
This Thursday, you can pick up some Still Kickin merch and help raise funds for the organization at a launch party for Jaguar’s new E-Pace compact SUV, which features a Still Kickin pop-up shop, a silent auction benefiting the organization, a Selfie and Co. photo booth, live fashion illustrations by local artist Claire Ward (sales of which also benefit the cause), hors d’oeuvres from Crave, wine, and beer. (Get details at Facebook.)
I checked in with McInerny about what’s new with Still Kickin, including its Mall of America pop-up and its FeMNist event, and how Still Kickin has evolved over the past three years.
There’s been a lot going on with Still Kickin lately! First off, how is the Mall of America pop-up going? What has been the most fun part about it? The most rewarding?
“The RAAS Local Market is going well! We introduced new merchandise for the holiday season [Ed. note: check out the new fancy gold-foiled designs on the stillkickin.co website], and it’s been amazing getting to know the other local brands in the space. We get to tell our story to people who may not know Still Kickin is a non-profit organization helping real humans (aka our Still Kickin Heroes). We’re also carrying our FeMNist merch at the store, and that has been very popular. The most rewarding experience has been seeing how many volunteers support the store by working their extra (unpaid!) ‘mall job’ on top of their busy lives. The store’s proximity to Orange Julius also helps.”
You’re launching a monthly Still Kickin pop-up shopping event at your NE studio on January 27. What new merch will you have on hand?
“We’re really excited to open our new office space to our community. We’re hoping to keep the pop-up shop fresh and different each month with sale items and first looks at new merch, but will also, of course, show off our favorite Still Kickin and FeMNist gear. Get details about this month’s pop-up event on Facebook.”
What inspired you to bring Aaron’s FeMNist shirt back now?
“The FeMNist shirt has been one of our bestsellers since we introduced it on the Still Kickin site in 2015. The shirt is a reprint of my late husband Aaron’s original design, which was first displayed at the Shirt Show in 2014. It was also available at Fifth Element for International Women’s Day 2017, and we’ve continued to create iterations for Still Kickin—stickers! Pens! Bright colors! It was the last design Aaron (a great FeMNist) made before he died. It means a lot to me personally, and in light of the #metoo movement and a rising feminist consciousness, the message continues to be important—maybe more than ever. Which is why we’re also working hard on our upcoming FeMNist Day 2018 Un-Conference and Night Market. Both are set for March 8, aka International Women’s Day. It’ll be a day of education, empowerment and equity for and by women of Minnesota.
Nora McInerny in the new Still Kickin FeMNist shirt
What else can you tell me about the event? What makes it an “Un-Conference”?
“We’re still working out the details with our partners at The Coven and will release more info soon. But the response has been overwhelming. We’re excited to see like-minded FeMNists coming together to support other local, women-owned businesses. And ‘un-conference’ means it’ll be less stuffy and pretentious than your typical conference, but still informative and, we hope, inspiring.”
You do a lot of events—runs, barre classes. Why are events (especially events encouraging people to be active) an important part of Still Kickin?
“It’s a way of bringing our community together. We choose to do something hard (running in January in Minnesota is NOT EASY) and challenge ourselves to support someone who is going through something much harder. The workouts are really just one of the ways for our community to show up—just show up!—for someone else.”
You founded Still Kickin three years ago. How has the organization evolved from its earliest form?
“We used to run Still Kickin out of our COO Lindsay’s one-bedroom apartment (plus part of my basement). Once we realized Lindsay’s apartment had turned into a storage unit for a ridiculous number of boxes of merchandise (SORRY LINDSAY!) we knew we needed our own space. Also because Lindsay needed her apartment back so she could, you know, live in it. Today, we have an office, a dedicated volunteer staff and our first full-time hire. Most importantly, we’ve been able to triple the amount we give our Heroes every month!”
What other plans do you have for 2018? Any new designs coming through the pipeline?
“Lots of new designs, lots of new styles and some fun color combinations on old classics are in the works. We’re always to trying to keep it fresh, but the original goal remains: Help awesome humans going through awful things.”
Learn more about Still Kickin’s mission and shop the merch at stillkickin.co.